Coming off three starts in which he had given up 12 earned runs in 13 innings, Adonis Medina was looking to get back on track Sunday.
Philadelphia's second-ranked prospect scattered four hits and two walks across five shutout innings as Double-A Reading held off Portland, 5-4, at First Energy Field. Medina finished with a season-high five strikeouts.
Video: Medina's season-high fifth K
Taking the ball on short rest -- Reading employs a six-man rotation and played a doubleheader Tuesday at New Hampshire -- Medina worked through what Fightin Phils pitching coach Aaron Fultz noted as "some bad execution, some bad luck. It's just baseball, good days and bad days."
Fultz said the biggest hurdle is "nothing specific" for the 22-year-old right-hander. "The last three starts were mechanical things and pitch selection. There isn't a glaring issue," said Fultz, who spent eight season in the Major Leagues. "Confidence is a big part of a pitcher's success. If he's not comfortable in his delivery, there will be a problem executing."
Signed as an international free agent in 2014, Medina worked out of a bases-loaded jam after giving up two walks and a single in the first inning with a three-pitch punchout of Tate Matheny. He allowed only three baserunners during his final four frames and retired eight of the last nine batters he faced.
Gameday box score
In the fourth, Medina (1-2) went three up, three down -- including two strikeouts -- on eight pitches. In total, he threw 66 pitches, 39 for strikes. The five-inning outing matched his longest of the season, most recently April 22 at Richmond.
"He was going five innings, no matter what," Fultz noted. "After the first inning, he got in the groove and went after guys. He was very 'pitch efficient.'
"It was fun to see him pitch with confidence. I had him all season last year [with Class A Advanced Clearwater], and there were some games where he just had a feeling for it. Today was like that. It looked like his fastball was more crisp."
Fultz underlined the philosophy that pitch counts outweigh innings, but added there is a process. "The first month, I am typically very conservative, as far as pitch counts," he explained. "Once a pitcher has gone six innings, he has the ability to go seven. If he's gone seven, he has the ability to go eight. I don't want to shut down guys in August if we're in a pennant race, but the gloves are off now. Today, though, Medina had no chance.
"These pitchers are good athletes, but they are more worried about today. Some don't understand the process. I'm trying to prepare them for the big leagues. Doing well in Double-A doesn't necessarily guarantee success in the Major Leagues. They do understand pitch limits, the innings limits -- especially a guy like Medina, who is on the 40-man [roster]."
2019 MiLB include
MLB.com's No. 70 overall prospect picked up his first win of the season with help from four Reading relievers, including Addison Russ, who earned his fifth save after striking out C.J. Chatham on a 3-2 pitch to end the game with the tying run on second.
Darick Hall belted a two-run homer, his fifth, in the sixth. Luke Williams added his first dinger -- a two-run blast in the seventh -- to cap the Fightin Phils' scoring.
Portland's Charlie Madden delivered two roundtrippers and three RBIs.